The State of the Tampa Prep Wrestling Team

 When Tampa Prep first resumed school, they split students up into separate groups on different days, and quickly reintroduced sports under new safety guidelines, except for wrestling. 

   Where the other sports experienced minor delays, wrestling wasn’t even allowed to set an official return date. Whenever hope returned, it would quickly wash away due to another delay. 

   Finally, at the beginning of December, Tampa Prep administrators came to the conclusion that wrestling would begin, as long as several new safety measures were enforced. However, as the team acclimated to these new requirements, they were blindsided by a new development: the departure of Coach Bricker.

 Andy Bricker was the longtime head coach of the Wrestling team, as well as a health and P.E. teacher. He worked at Tampa Prep for 13 years, and, in that time, brought great success to the Tampa Prep Wrestling Team, creating several state champions, and bringing home several team trophies to the school. 

   Bricker left for a short-notice job opening as Lincoln Memorial University’s inaugural Director of Wrestling.

“Bricker was a good friend, but people move. It happens,” Newly appointed head coach James “Tony” Gift said when asked about Bricker’s departure. Bricker was the backbone of the wrestling team for many years. He will be sorely missed. 

 As for the wrestling team, things are starting to become a new normal. Assistant coach Tony has taken over coaching duties for the wrestling team, and assumed the position of head coach. As for the new safety measures, practices have been split into two halves. These halves are each half the time, and with half the team. In between these practices, the wrestling mat is cleaned to prevent any transmission of germs between the separate groups. The mats are also cleaned before and after practice. Another measure implemented is the limitation of practice partners: each wrestler can only wrestle with one partner, which prevents the spread of germs between wrestlers, but also limits certain kinds of drills.

 Despite these changes, they already achieved some success, with sophomore Aidan Larkin achieving first place in the team’s first individual tournament, the 2020 Bradenton Battle. That, alongside tournaments taking place throughout the beginning of 2021, will allow the team opportunities to grow despite a late start to their season.